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History of the South African steel industry

Selected salient events in the development of South Africa’s primary steel industry:

  • 1882  Prospectus of the South African Coal and Iron Company is published.
  • 1892  Mr Sammy Marks, through the efforts of AH Nellmapius, obtained a concession to erect factories and furnaces  for the smelting of iron
  • 1901  Mr CL Green produces a small quantity of pig iron from a rudimentary blast furnace at Sweetwaters, near  Pietermaritzburg to European methods. The venture was terminated.
  • 1905  The Transvaal Iron and Steel Company is formed in Kempton Park and buys a rolling-mill plant from New  Zealand. It intends to rework scrap into sheet-metal products. The plant is broken up and sold as scrap in 1913.  There was no commercial production.
  • 1907  The railways acquires a Bessemer converter and uses it in the Pretoria workshops to produce small quantities of  iron from the ore found near Pretoria. The project failed due to the cost of importing suitable coke.
  • 1908  Sir Robert Kotze, the Transvaal government mining engineer, advocates the building of a moderate furnace and  steel plant. Instead the government calls in FW Harbord, a British specialist, to draw up a report. The report  suggests electric furnaces to smelt the considerable quantity of railway scrap available.
  • 1910  The Transvaal government acts on the Harbord report and awards a tender to Mr Hawkins for erection of a  furnace to transform railway scrap to steel. He fails to carry out his obligations, the contract is forfeited and  awarded to Sammy Marks.
  • 1911  Mr Wright and Mr Sammy Marks establish the Union Steel Corporation (USCO).
  • 1912  Machinery merchants Cartwright and Eaton starts producing puddled and merchant iron. The company name is  changed to Dunswart Iron and Steel Works in 1914 – later aquired by Iscor.
  • 1913  USCO starts production from a 10 ton open hearth furnace in Vereeniging – later acquired by Iscor.
  • 1916  Mr CF Delfos is granted a license to mine ferrous ores near Pretoria West. Pretoria Works commissioned;  Vereeniging Works commissioned. Transvaal Blast Furnace Company Limited formed.
  • 1918  Mr Delfos constructs a blast furnace and produces 4 000 tons of pig iron in three campaigns up to 1921. Mr  Delfos is convinced that an iron and steel industry could succeed only if it had a sufficiently large capacity and  encourages him and his associates to form the SA Iron and Steel Corporation in 1919.
  • 1918  Mr Marks and Mr Lewis floats the Transvaal Blast Furnace Company in 1917 to built an experimental blast  furnace at USCO in Vereeniging. Participating in the project are the Industrial Development Company and Mr  Neame, chairman of Dunswart Iron and Steel. The furnace is blown in and produces a total of 650 tons of pig  iron.
  • 1919  Mr JK Eaton constructs a blast furnace at Newcastle.
  • 1920  Newcastle works commissioned; Newcastle Iron and Steel Works, Limited formed. Production starts in 1926 as  the Newcastle Iron and Steel Works. The works is renamed Armcor Iron Works and later acquired by Iscor.
  • 1924  A German company, Gutehoffnungshütte, publishes a positive report on the potential of the South African steel  industry. The report is pioneered by Mr Delfos, who then starts to canvas government support for the expansion  of the local steel industry.
  • 1924  SCAW Metals starts operations in Johannesburg as a steel ceilings and aluminium window frames  manufacturer. SCAW moves to Germiston in 1939.
  • 1927  Legislation is tabled in parliament that effectively leads to the founding of the South African Iron and Steel  Industrial Corporation – Iscor.
  • 1928  Iscor founded as a statutory parastatal.
  • 1929  Cape Gate Fence & Wire Works (Pty) Limited is founded in Parow, Western Province by the Kaplan / Kushlick  families as a wire netting manufacturer.
  • 1934  State-owned Iscor starts production in Pretoria.
  • 1943  Iscor commissions a heavy plate mill at Vanderbijlpark.
  • 1947  Iscor expands by establishing a green field integrated steel works and flat products mill in Vanderbijlpark  completing the first phase in 1953. Major expansions followed during 1964 to 1968 and during 1973 to 1977.
  • 1957  Minerals Engineering of Colorado opens a plant in Witbank designed to produce approximately 1,4m kg of  vanadium pentoxide annually.
  • 1959  In November 1959 Anglo American Corporation of South Africa acquires a two-third share in Minerals  Engineering and in August 1960 the company’s name is changed to Transvaal Vanadium Company (Proprietary)  Limited.
  • 1960  The Highveld Development Company Limited is established on 19 May 1960 to investigate the viability of  processing titaniferous magnetite ore for the production of liquid pig iron and vanadium-bearing slag.
  • 1962  Cape Gate (Pty) Limited is established by the purchase by the Kaplan family of a small wire netting plant on 15  hectares in Vanderbijlpark, Gauteng Province.
  • 1963  RMB Alloys Ferrochrome Pilot Project is launched in Middelburg.
  • 1964  In November 1964 the Highveld Development Company embarks on a programme to build an integrated iron and  steel works near Witbank.
  • 1964  The stainless steel Southern Cross Steel Co (Pty) Ltd is established. In 1968 it becomes the Steel Division of  Middelburg Steel and Alloys (Pty) Ltd and in 1990 MS&A Stainless (Pty) Ltd is established. Columbus Stainless  (Pty) Ltd is formed in 1991 when the initial partners, Samancor and Highveld Steel, acquire the stainless steel  facility of MS & A Stainless from the Barlow Group.
  • 1965  The name of the Highveld Development Company Limited is changed to Highveld Steel and Vanadium  Corporation Limited (“Highveld”) on 11 June 1965.
  • 1966  Following the acquisition of the remaining shareholding of Transvaal Vanadium Company (Proprietary) Limited,  this company, in August 1966, becomes a division of Highveld, the largest vanadium producer in the world.
  • 1967  Cape Town Iron and Steel Works (Pty) Ltd – CISCO is founded by Downing and Favel (previously known as  MacWillaw). Old Mutual and other shareholders take ownership and begin the upgrade of the plant.
  • 1967  Cape Gate (Pty) Ltd – The Sharon Wire Mill division is established to produce uncoated and galvanized wire,  welded mesh, diamond mesh, barbed wire, field fence and other products.
  • 1971  Iscor starts erecting an integrated steel works and long products mill at Newcastle. Blast furnace produces first  iron in 1976.
  • 1973  Iscor takes ownership of CISCO.
  • 1975  Cape Gate (Pty) Ltd – The Davsteel division is established, and rolling mills for the production of wire rod, re-bar  and rounds is commissioned in Vanderbijlpark.
  • 1976  Highveld Steel acquires a 65 % in Transalloys (Proprietary) Limited. The remaining interest is acquired in 1985  and Transalloys now operates as a division of Highveld, producing manganese alloys.
  • 1978  Highveld Steel acquires the total issued share capital of Rand Carbide Limited, which was founded in 1918 in  Germiston. The plant moved to Witbank in 1926 and Rand Carbide now operates as a division of Highveld,  producing ferrosilicon and various carbonaceous products.
  • 1980  Cape Gate (Pty) Ltd – An EAF meltshop consisting of a 45 ton electric arc furnace, casting machine and  associated plant for steel manufacturing is commissioned.
  • 1981  Cape Gate (Pty) Ltd – The Oren Wire division, to produce specialist wire products, is established.
  • 1985  Highveld Steel – The group acquires Rheem South Africa (Proprietary) Limited, a company involved mainly in the  manufacture of drums, pails and crown closures, in 1985. It operated as a division of Highveld until the various  parts were sold partly effective from 1 January 2002 and the rest early 2003.
  • 1988  First commercial Corex unit in the world is commissioned at Iscor Pretoria.
  • 1989  Iscor privatises and is listed on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange on 8 November 1989.
  • 1991  Highveld Steel – the group expands its activities into stainless steel with the acquisition of the stainless steel  operation of Middelburg Steel & Alloys (Proprietary) Limited in partnership with Samancor Limited resulting in  the formation of the Columbus Joint Venture.
  • 1991  Iscor gains full control of the USCO steel works south of Johannesburg and renames the facility Iscor  Vereeniging Works.
  • 1993  Highveld Steel – Highveld and Samancor each sell a one-sixth share of the Columbus Joint Venture to the  Industrial Development Corporation.
  • 1994  Highveld Steel acquires the vanadium producer, Transvaal Alloys (Proprietary) Limited, on 1 January 1994.
  • 1994  Iscor Pretoria works is upgraded to produce stainless steel.
  • 1995  CISCO formed a JV with Reinforcing Steel Contractors, known as RSH.
  • 1995  Cisco is acquired by Murray and Roberts Steel (Pty) Ltd.
  • 1996 Construction of the Saldanha Steel plant, a joint venture between Iscor and the Industrial Development  Corporation, commences.
  • 1998  Highveld Steel – Hochvanadium Holding AG and a wholly-owned subsidiary Hochvanadium Handels GmbH  commences business in Austria on 1 December 1998 for the purpose of processing and selling vanadium  products.
  • 1998  Iscor Pretoria works is decommissioned.
  • 1998  Duferco Steel Processing started commissioning at the end of 1998 in Saldanha.
  • 1999  The Saldanha Steel plant is commissioned.
  • 1999  Murray & Roberts Limited acquires full ownership of CISCO.
  • 1999  SA Metal invest in a steel mill known as “SA Steelworks” at Airport Industria, Cape Town.
  • 2001  Iscor transfers its mining companies and businesses to Kumba Resources Limited, save a portion of the mineral  rights at Sishen mine entitling it to delivery of 6,25 Mtpa of iron ore. Kumba is successfully unbundled and  separately listed on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange on 26 November 2001.
  • 2002  Acerinox of Spain acquires a 64% stake in Columbus Stainless with effect from 1 January 2002 from the three  founding partners of Columbus i.e. Highveld Steel, Samancor and the IDC.
  • 2002  With effect from 1 January 2002 Highveld Steel disposes of 64 % of its interest in Columbus Stainless, thereby  retaining a 12 % interest in Columbus and acquiring a 2.9 % interest in the share capital of Acerinox, S.A.
  • 2002  Iscor acquires the IDC’s 50% shareholding in Saldanha Steel and fully integrates Saldanha Steel into Iscor’s flat  steel products division as from April 2002.
  • 2003  The Highveld Steel corporation acquires a 50 % shareholding in South Africa Japan Vanadium (Proprietary)  Limited with a plant situated at the steel works, which produces ferrovanadium specifically for the Japanese  market.
  • 2004  LNM acquires more than 51% of Iscor Ltd and the LNM subsidiary’s name is changed to Ispat Iscor Limited as  from September 2004.
  • 2005  On 14 March 2005, Ispat Iscor Limited is officially renamed Mittal Steel South Africa Limited. This development  follows the December 2004 merger of Ispat International and LNM Holdings, the parent company, to form Mittal  Steel Company N.V.
  • 2005  Highveld Steel – Half the Acerinox S.A. interest is sold on 7 January 2005 and the balance together with the  investment in Columbus Stainless (proprietary) Limited on 13 May 2005.
  • 2005  Columbus Stainless – Acerinox increases its shareholding in Columbus Stainless by 12% from 64% to 76% on 13  May 2005.
  • 2006  Following Anglo American’s announcement on 26 October 2005 that it had decided to rationalise its portfolio  and increase the focus on its controlled mining businesses, Anglo American reduced its 79% interest in Highveld  Steel & Vanadium Corporation Ltd. On 13 July 2006 Evraz and Credit Suisse have each acquired 24.9% of  Highveld’s share capital from Anglo American. Anglo American retains a 29.2% interest in Highveld.
  • 2007  Anglo American plc disposed of its remaining 29.2% shareholding in Highveld Steel and Vanadium Corporation  Limited to the Evraz Group S.A. As of May 4, 2007, Evraz owns approximately 54.1% of all outstanding shares in  Highveld.
  • 2007  Evraz executed the option to acquire the remaining Credit Suisse shares in Highveld Steel and Vanadium  Corporation. As of 28 September 2007 Evraz owns 80.9% of the entire issued share capital of Highveld.
  • 2007  Following the merger between Arcelor and Mittal Steel to form the world’s largest steel company, formerly Mittal  Steel South Africa Limited is known as ArcelorMittal South Africa Limited.
  • 2008  On 29 August 2008 the conditions set by the Commission of the European Communities for Evraz Group S.A. in  relation to the divestment of Highveld’s vanadium-related assets were met.
  • 2010  The name of Highveld Steel and Vanadium Limited was changed to Evraz Highveld Steel and Vanadium Limited  on 19 July 2010.
  • 2010  Safal Steel commences production in Cato Ridge, Kwazulu Natal.
  • 2012  Murray & Roberts disposed of the Cape Town Iron and Steel Works (Cisco) in September 2012 to DHT Holding, a  Turkish investment group. Cisco had been placed on care and maintenance in 2010.
  • 2012  The sale of Scaw South Africa (Pty) Ltd. and related companies by Anglo American plc was completed on 23  November 2012. Anglo American announced on 24 April 2012 the sale of Scaw South Africa to an investment  consortium led by the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa (“IDC”) and Anglo American’s partners  in Scaw South Africa, being Izingwe Holdings (Pty) Limited, Shanduka Resources (Pty) Limited and the Southern  Palace Group of Companies (Pty) Limited.
  • 2013  Unica Iron and Steel commences production Babelegi, Pretoria.
  • 2013  Veer Steel Mills (Pty) Ltd commences production in Alrode.
  • 2014  On 12 August 2014 EVRAZ plc signed an agreement to sell 34% of the issued share capital in Evraz Highveld  Steel and Vanadium held by EVRAZ to Macrovest 147 Proprietary Limited. As a result of the transaction, EVRAZ  will remain a 51% shareholder of Evraz Highveld Steel and Vanadium.
  • 2014  Agni Steels SA commences production in Coega Industrial Development Zone.
  • 2015  During April 2015, Evraz Highveld Steel filed for voluntary business rescue as a result of lack of funding in  challenging market conditions and ceased operations during July 2015.
  • 2017  In a toll rolling agreement the heavy structural mill at Highveld Steel reopened officially on 6 June 2017 after it  has been refurbished to process blooms and slabs supplied by AMSA’s Newcastle Works into heavy structural  sections.
  • 2017  Cape Town Iron and Steel Works (Cisco) restarted production facilities.
  • 2017  Fortune Steels commences production in Nigel.
  • 2018 Cast Products South Africa was established following restructuring of Scaw Metals into three standalone  entities.
  • 2018  Grinding Media South Africa was established following restructuring of Scaw Metals into three standalone entities.
  • 2018  On 19 February 2018 the Competition Tribunal approved Barnes Southern Palace’s acquisition of Scaw South  Africa (Pty) Ltd from the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC).
  • 2018  Construction of SA Steel Rolling Mills (Pty) Ltd in Meyerton commences.
  • 2019  ArcelorMittal South Africa embarked on the orderly and commercial wind-down of Saldanha Works to be  largely completed by the end of the first quarter of 2020.